National elections are underway in India, but will take five weeks to complete. That leaves many American observers wondering: Why so long?
The short answer is that India's elections are huge—and mobile.
The elections, which started on April 7, will end on May 12 and are decided by popular vote. In nine phases of polling that move from region to region, 814 million Indians will be eligible to vote for the next government—roughly the number of people who have been eligible in the last four U.S. presidential elections combined.
The number of voters in India has grown substantially since the last parliamentary election in 2009, with more than 100 million having been added to electoral rolls—an increase roughly equal to the combined populations of California, Texas, New York and Florida. By way of comparison, U.S. voter rolls generally increase by about 10 million people every election cycle.